Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tessa Jowell writes that we need to treat inequality as a disease which can be cured through effective public policy, but the Star points out that the Cons have instead gone out of their way to make it worse. Fair Vote Canada interviews J. Peter Venton about the toxic effect of inequality on our political system. And Sean McElwee notes that in the U.S. at least, the right has managed to turn the middle and working classes against exactly the type of redistribution which best serves their interests.

- Yanis Varoufakis argues that it's long past time to start ensuring that our decisions about public policy are made with the interests of people in mind, rather than being based solely on calculations as to what elites can get away with:
The trouble with game theory, as I used to tell my students, is that it takes for granted the players’ motives. In poker or blackjack this assumption is unproblematic. But in the current deliberations between our European partners and Greece’s new government, the whole point is to forge new motives. To fashion a fresh mind-set that transcends national divides, dissolves the creditor-debtor distinction in favor of a pan-European perspective, and places the common European good above petty politics, dogma that proves toxic if universalized, and an us-versus-them mind-set.

As finance minister of a small, fiscally stressed nation lacking its own central bank and seen by many of our partners as a problem debtor, I am convinced that we have one option only: to shun any temptation to treat this pivotal moment as an experiment in strategizing and, instead, to present honestly the facts concerning Greece’s social economy, table our proposals for regrowing Greece, explain why these are in Europe’s interest, and reveal the red lines beyond which logic and duty prevent us from going.
How do we know that our modest policy agenda, which constitutes our red line, is right in Kant’s terms? We know by looking into the eyes of the hungry in the streets of our cities or contemplating our stressed middle class, or considering the interests of hard-working people in every European village and city within our monetary union. After all, Europe will only regain its soul when it regains the people’s trust by putting their interests center-stage.
- Dean Baker observes that political figures still pushing austerity even in the face of compelling evidence of failure should be considered the economic equivalent of creationists. And Louis-Philippe Rochon argues from a Canadian perspective that we're headed for even more severe economic trouble if we keep putting up with contractionary fiscal policy.

- Mark Schmitt discusses how supplementary public contributions might help to rein in the disproportionate influence of the wealthy in U.S. politics. But it's worth noting that Canada had a superior version of the same type of policy in the form of the per-vote funding eliminated by the Harper Cons.

- Janice Dickson looks into the background of the Halifax shooting plot. And Derrick O'Keefe sees Peter MacKay's response as yet another example of the Cons' politicizing issues of public safety, while Gary Shaul writes about the Cons' willingness to downplay violent extremism as long as it comes from their type of violent extremists.

- Finally, Rafe Mair worries that the politics of fear might well succeed - particularly if opposition parties and the media fail in their job of challenging the Cons' fearmongering. And while Karl Nerenberg may be right in recognizing some political risk in actually doing that job, I'd think there's even more to be lost if nobody takes it on.

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